What should sex shop workers and companies know about disability and language?
- Some people with disabilities prefer to say they are disabled, and others prefer to say other things, like differently-abled. It’s best to avoid using these words at all because you won’t know about each disabled person’s language preferences.
- Don’t ask what happened to a person to cause them to be disabled.
- Don’t ask what their disability is.
- Don’t use words such as deformed, disfigured, broken, bad.
- Don’t use the word normal to contrast a disabled person’s body or experience.
- Don’t say, wheelchair-bound, confined to a wheelchair. Say, uses a wheelchair or wheelchair user.
What are some tips for sex shop workers and companies regarding helping their disabled customers?
- Greet the person with disability when they enter the store by welcoming them and offering to assist them with accessing products (products may be out of reach or difficult to hold).
- Don’t assume that the disabled person is there to find products for solo play.
- If someone is with an attendant, aide, or interpreter, speak to the disabled person and not to the assistant; in essence, ignore the assistant.
- Don’t talk to a person with a disability as though they are a child or unintelligent. Speak to them as you would any other adult.
- Always face people when speaking to them; don’t turn your head to the side or speak with your back to someone.
- Never, ever touch someone’s wheelchair, cane, or crutches unless the user asks you to do so.
- Don’t hover over or follow a person with a disability around the store; only offer assistance when they enter the store and perhaps once again if they have been in the store for a longer than average time.
What are some questions sex shop workers and companies should ask?
- Don’t ask if someone can have sex. Ask if they know what types of sexual pleasure they enjoy and if not, would they like guidance for solo and partnered sexual pleasure.
- If they would like guidance, shop workers are welcome to ask if the disabled person has any challenges accessing sexual pleasure. The shop employee can give examples such as:
- Easy to grip toys
- Quieter toys
- Toys with a longer reach
- Waterproof toys
- After a purchase has been made, ask if the customer would like the packaging to be opened and the toy removed from the packaging; not all disabilities are visible, including those related to dexterity — and toy packaging is notoriously difficult to open. If the customer would like the packaging to be opened and the toy to be removed, be sure to include everything — packaging, inserts, toy, case, charger, instructions — in your shop or company’s discreet shopping bag (or a bag provided by the customer).
What are some products sex shop workers and companies could recommend for folks with a disability who want to improve their sex lives?
- Wedges and other cushioning made specifically for assistance with sexual positioning.
- Wand vibrators for people who need something larger to grip and longer to reach.
- Quiet vibrators for people who live with their parents, roommates, a group home, etc.
- Discreet toy storage.
- Air pressure stimulators, also known as suction toys, for clitorises that prefer light stimulation.
- Cock rings and penis pumps to help maintain erections.
- Sleeves and stroking masturbators to assist a penis.
- Harnesses for play with partners who have limited mobility.
- Suction cup dildos and thrusters for solo penetrative play by people with limited hand dexterity.
- Explore a little sensation play with products like feathered ticklers, products that can be frozen or heated such as stainless-steel dildos, pinwheels, massage candles, nipple toys, and blindfolds.
- Lube warmers and the right lube!
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